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Skimmers rip off Bartlett drivers at gas pumps

Illegal card skimmer

This card skimmer might fool the casual user who doesn’t notice the damage to the casing just above the card-reader unit where the original device was removed and replaced. Source: Flickr.com; some rights reserved.

Drivers need to be extra careful to avoid getting their credit card information stolen at the gas pumps. Bartlett Police Department detectives are looking into two credit card “skimmers” recently found at Bartlett gas stations.

One was at the Circle K (8140 U.S. 64) and the other was at the Shell gas station on Kirby Whitten Road, both found on April 27. But any business that has a card reader can be vulnerable.

“Skimmers” are devices attached to ATM and gas pumps’ card readers to fraudulently gather information from the user’s credit card or debit card. These device may be bogus card readers that look like part of the authentic device, or they could be ATM PIN capture overlays that cover up the legitimate PIN entry pad. Some are even more devious, with battery operated and motion activated cameras designed to record victims entering their PINs.

Criminal technology is constantly evolving. See examples of skimmers online at krebsonsecurity.com/all-about-skimmers.

Tips include:

  • Look for any signs of tampering to the device, including broken seals.
  • Compare to nearby gas pumps or ATMs to see if there are differences in design.
  • Don’t use the device if the keyboard or card reader seem “off.”
  • Check the sturdiness of the device. Any loose or jiggling parts are suspicious.
  • Wiggle the card when it’s inserted. Card readers have trouble reading the data correctly when the stripe isn’t slid in a single motion. For devices that take the card and return it at the end of the transaction, wiggle the card as you slip it into the slot.
  • Cover the keyboard with your hand when you enter your PIN. Don’t rely solely on the device’s design to protect you.
  • Use interior payment methods when possible. Criminals are less likely to install skimmers at busy and highly public locations, such as ATMS inside a store.
  • Avoid weekend purchases. You’re more at risk of getting hit by a skimmer that’s installed just for the weekend, when it’s harder for customers to file reports of suspicious devices.
  • Avoid using your card’s magnetic stripe; use the EMV chip instead. It’s harder to attack.
  • Report any skimming incidents immediately. To help, keep a close eye on your debit and credit card transactions.
  • Use credit cards over debit cards when possible. Debit transactions take more effort to resolve than credit card claims take.

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